Extra-curricular activities have a wider range of meanings than ever before. Once, it meant a school playground might play host to slightly more exotic sports than children could see in PE classes. Presently, it ranges between activities as diverse as computer programming, cooking, and competitive card games.
Parents who load their children up with such activities have a wealth of experiences and opinions on the subject. And, there are certainly a number of advantages to consider. But there are also potential problems and concerns about this kind of aggressive ‘optimization’ of children’s weekday free-time.
Advantage: Better Grades
Conventional wisdom might suggest that an over-focus on extracurricular activities might detract from plain school activities. These school activities range from home study, coursework, to home assignments and other similar exercises. These were the part of the school life that required time outside the classroom. However, the vested interests have not broadly shown this as being the case. Extracurriculars offer advantages that outweigh the lack of time to the point of actually giving children better grades overall. Among these are an ability to manage time, and practice at prioritization.
Disadvantage: Spread Too Thin
A child may struggle to develop a coherent interest or skill. This is more so when they find themselves ferried between a variety of extra-curricular activities. It is another matter though, that these activities might have little to do with each other. Cookery and computing both may be very valuable skills. Still, the lack of overlap may have some children wishing they could spend more time away from pastries. Instead, students would have liked mastering processors.
Advantage: Increased Self Esteem
Allowing a child to take charge of their own curriculum naturally results in a gift for them. Thus, you give them a broader sense of ownership of their own experiences and achievements. This is particularly so when you provide them the extracurricular activities they enjoy. Consequently, this will do wonders for their self-esteem, which is further boosted by success and achievement in these activities. something that can be further encouraged by choosing classes with overlapping or developmentally contiguous skills. An all-around class in sports skills and ball games might then follow on to cricket lessons, football practice, or basketball games.
Disadvantage: Over-Directed Experiences
Children need space to get bored. Without knowing how to make their own amusement or find their own direction when none is immediately present, children may difficulties in adolescence, or even adulthood, when presented with circumstances that require more self-sourced initiative. The appeal of organized fun is clear to parents. This is because there are the structure and arrangement of responsibilities to keep children safe. And most importantly, you can be sure of children’s guaranteed engagement. But sometimes children need to be faced with uncertainty. How they respond to such things will be deeply useful in their future growth.
Advantage: Enhanced Resumes & Applications
Employers and higher education enrolment officers like to see that the person they are considering does not only work when either the state compels it, or financial reality requires it. Someone who has been engaged in growing their skills, talents, and abilities outside a required setting is someone who knows how to provide extra effort when the situation requires it. Extracurricular classes imply ambition, direction, dedication, and a willingness to overcome challenge and difficulty. All desirable traits in students and employees alike.
Disadvantage: Less Family Time
With too many extracurricular activities, some families can end up with less and less time together as a unit. While it may be tempting to think of this time as put to better use than the usual modern complaint of children vegetating in front of television or video-games, it is still time removed from the family unit as a whole, which does have immense social and educational value in itself.
Situations vary from family to family, and no one arrangement will be universally applicable to every kind of household. But parents should consider every side of the issue, before deciding how much direction their children’s free time should have.
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